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Arsenic and Old Lace This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Want to read something simply because it's enjoyable?Like going to theater for an evening of escapism, reading a play can be anenjoyable break from the literary grind. A very humorous example would be Arsenicand Old Lace by Joseph Kesselring.

The elderly Brewster sisters are thekindest and most generous ladies in Brooklyn, so it comes as quite a shock totheir nephew Mortimer to learn that they are experienced murderers, poisoninglonely old men with arsenic-laced wine.

They have nearly a dozen bodiesburied in the cellar, but the sisters don't see anything wrong with theiractions, though the absurdity of it all bewilders Mortimer and sends him into apanicked frenzy. The peculiar habits of Mortimer's brother Teddy (who thinks he'sTheodore Roosevelt) and the sudden arrival of their criminal brother, Jonathan,don't help matters. And, of course, there is always a corpse or two hiddensomewhere around the stage.

Death and insanity may be very serioussubjects, but Arsenic and Old Lace is successful at making it a farce. There'snever a dull page, it's practically mayhem, and by the end you're convinced thateveryone is at least a little insane.

Because it's a play, the readerisn't bogged down by descriptions and metaphors. So go back to the basics ofliterature: plot, dialogue, and characters. This is a hilarious work with unusualcharacters and a great story. Take your time, visualize the chaos in your mind,and dare to enjoy it!


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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